Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the three kinds of gifts I can give to Oxford University?

Generally speaking, during your lifetime you can make an outright gift of cash, securities or other property (e.g., real estate, personal property).

Upon your death you can make a gift through your will or revocable trust, or through a distribution from a retirement plan or life insurance policy.

You also have the option of making a gift that returns lifetime payments to you, your spouse, or other individuals, such as a charitable gift annuity or charitable remainder trust.

2. What sort of assets can I use to make a gift?

Almost anything: cash, publicly traded securities, the balance in your retirement account. Other assets can be very valuable but are more complicated to administer and must be reviewed by us before we can accept them as gifts: real estate, closely held stock and artwork.

3. What tax deduction will I receive for my gift?

It depends on the form your gift takes:

  • Outright gifts to Oxford University generate a full income-tax charitable deduction. Outright gifts of appreciated securities are deductible at fair market value, with no recognition of capital gains - a great tax benefit!
  • Gifts of personal property, like art, books and collectibles, are fully deductible so long as they are relevant to our mission. We can advise you on this point.
  • Bequests do not generate a lifetime income tax deduction. They are exempt from estate tax, however.
  • Similarly, life insurance distributions to Oxford University are not income-tax deductible, but are exempt from estate tax.
  • A lifetime gift of an insurance policy to Oxford University generates a deduction for the value of the policy. If you give a policy with premiums still owing, you may also deduct annual gifts that offset our premium payments (for more details on this point, see Question 5 below).
  • The charitable deduction for a gift that makes payments to you, such as a charitable gift annuity or a charitable remainder trust, is the fair market value of the gift asset minus the present value of the income interest you retain.

4. Can Oxford University serve as the Executor of my estate?

No. State law, the limitations of our corporate powers, and our internal policies prevent us from taking such a role in your affairs.

5. I want to set up a life insurance policy, name Oxford University as beneficiary, but retain ownership of the policy. Can I deduct the premium payments I make?

No. The IRS would not consider that a "completed gift" - they'd say that, as the owner of the policy, you could change the beneficiary designation to a friend or family member. Oxford University must be made the irrevocable owner of the policy for gifts offsetting premium payments to be deductible.

6. Can I transfer my IRA to Oxford University to set up a life-income gift, and avoid income tax on the transfer?
New legislation gives donors aged 70½ and older an opportunity to direct lifetime distributions from their IRAs to us without incurring income tax liability on the withdrawal. The provision will be in effect for just the 2006 and 2007 tax years. Distributions can total $100,000 per year, and must be made outright — they cannot fund a life-income gift. Just e-mail us and we'll be happy to give you more information about this new charitable incentive.

Donors younger than 70½ can make a withdrawal from their IRA or other type of retirement plan, pay income tax on the withdrawal, and donate the proceeds to us. These gifts can be made outright or can fund a life-income gift and will generate a charitable deduction for the donor.

7. I'd like to donate a painting. Will you determine its value for my income tax deduction?

No, we can't. The IRS requires that donors of artwork and collectibles secure an independent appraisal of the items to establish fair market value. The appraisal has to be related to the gift, too - an insurance appraisal won't suffice. We can assist you on this point.

8. I'm interested in establishing a charitable gift annuity. What financial provisions do you make for the income payments to me and my husband?

Your charitable gift annuity will be treated as a general obligation of Oxford University, backed by all its assets. Oxford University is in full compliance with New York provisions regarding non-profits' offering of gift annuities. We have an unbroken record in making timely payments to our annuitants, and that ongoing responsibility is a key element in our financial policies.

9. If I create a bequest or life-income gift, will Oxford University continue to ask me for annual contributions?

We will, because the commitments address two different needs. Your planned gift is a significant addition to our long-term financial strength -- our ability to meet the challenges and opportunities the future will bring. The obligations and expenses that we encounter today, however, are met through your annual gift. We are very grateful that you want Oxford University to succeed both today and in the future.